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Tanzania government claims ownership of Airtel

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The management of Tanzania Telecommunication company Limited (TTCL) have started a move to repossess a local mobile firm Airtel.

This follows a directive by the country’s president John Pombe Magufuli to the finance minister to make a close follow-up on the ownership of Airtel in Tanzania.

According to Dr. Magufuli, Airtel is fully owned by the state company, arguing that there was an irregularity in switching the shares of TTCL to Airtel in 2001 when the firm was operating as Celtel Tanzania.

Speaking to journalists today, TTCL Chief Executive Officer clarified that at the moment, Airtel does not belong to TTCL.

“We want to retain our company (Airtel) of which its shares were shifted to the government many years ago ,”he emphasized

According to available information, during the privatisation of Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL), Celtel International was in partnership with Detecon of Germany and the two companies invested an initial $60 million into TTCL in February 2001 for a 35-per cent stake.

In the new partnership with TTCL, Celtel International agreed to be bound by independent ‘Expert Determination’ in the aftermath of a poor financial performance of TTCL. Based on this, Celtel International made an additional $4.96 million payment.

In early August 2005, Celtel Tanzania and TTCL were legally separated, allowing each to administer its own financial and business operations. In this new (duly signed) agreement between the Tanzanian Government and Celtel Tanzania, TTCL’s shareholding structure remained unchanged, with the government of Tanzania holding 65 per cent and Celtel International the remaining 35 percent.

In the aftermath, Celtel Tanzania’s structure was changed so as to follow the government’s decision to sell a 25 per cent stake to Celtel International for $28 million.

Proponents of the TTCL takeover of Airtel argue that Tanzania was ‘shortchanged’ in these transactions and that Celtel’s investment wasn’t commensurate with the returns over the years.

The President accused some officials of ‘dirty games’ of changing/selling the shares at ‘throw away’ prices, at the expense of national interest.

Parliament in Tanzania recently passed a new law that saw the previously privatised TTCLrevert into a fully public owned corporation with an added role to play in the telecommunications sector.

TTCL plans to improve the company’s operations and extend services to reach remote areas. To achieve this plan, TTCL needs more funding from the government and the plan now is to do it after gaining 100% ownership.

Currently Airtel Tanzania is owned by the government of Tanzania through TTCL (40%) and Celtel Tanzania BV, an affiliate of Zain Africa BV which was acquired by Bharti Airtel International in November 2010.

Bharti Airtel recently denied rumours it was planning to exit its unprofitable markets of Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

It has since entered into a definitive agreement with Millicom International Cellular S.A. to acquire 100 per cent equity stake in its Rwanda operation, Tigo Rwanda.

The acquisition is consistent with the company’s recent statement which denied the exit rumours and said ‘we are open to consolidation opportunities either through acquisitions or mergers, to create a viable business in these three (Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania) markets.’

Operating in 15 countries across Africa, Airtel says it is committed to profitably serving its customers on the continent.

“We are also committed to the long term viability of our operations in two other countries i.e. Kenya and Tanzania, to ensure that in 2018 all our 15 operations in Africa start contributing positive margins and cash flows towards a healthy and profitable Airtel Africa,” Bharti Airtel Chairman, Sunil Bharti Mittal said.

The company is yet to issue a statement on the latest developments in Tanzania.

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24 Hours Across Africa

World food prices hike for first time in five months: U.N. FAO

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World food prices rose for the first time in five months in October, boosted by jumps in quotations for sugar and cereals, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 172.7 points in October, up 1.7% on the previous month and 6.0% year-on-year.

FAO also predicted that cereal production would be 2.704 billion tonnes in 2019, slightly lower than its last forecast.

The FAO sugar price index jumped 5.8% from September levels, largely because of expectations of lower supplies in the year ahead following forecasts of large reductions in sugar output in India and Thailand.

The cereal price index rose 4.2%, with wheat and maize export prices climbing on the back of reduced crop prospects in several major producing countries and “robust trade activity”. By contrast, rice prices fell, hit by subdued demand and expectations of an abundant basmati harvest.

The vegetable oil price index increased 0.5% to reach its highest level in more than a year, while the meat price index rose 0.9%, driven by higher import demand especially from China.

By contrast, the dairy price index dropped 0.7% in October, as lower quotations for cheese offset increases in those for skimmed and whole milk powders, FAO said.

FAO lowered its forecast for global cereal production in 2019 by some 2 million tonnes, pegging world cereal output at 2.704 billion tonnes, but still up 1.8% from 2018 levels.

The U.N. agency said worldwide coarse grain production in 2019 was seen at 1.425 billion tonnes, down 1.3 million on the previous forecast.

Wheat output was seen at 765 million tonnes, down nearly 1 million tonnes on the last outlook, but still on course to set a new record and up 4.5% on 2018 levels.

The forecast for global rice production was put at 513.4 million tonnes, little changed on the previous forecast and slightly below 2018 levels.

Source: Reuters

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24 Hours Across Africa

Director Genevieve Nnaji reacts over Oscar snub.

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Nigeria’s first-ever Oscar submission for best international feature film has been disqualified by award organisers, sparking criticism from its director.

Films in this category, formerly best foreign language film, must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track”.

However, the 95-minute film Lionheart is largely in English, with an 11-minute section in the Igbo language.

Director Genevieve Nnaji  said the film represented how Nigerians communicate.

The disqualification of the film by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was announced to voters in an email on Monday, according to The Wrap.

Ava DuVernay, director of Selma and A Wrinkle in Time, questioned the decision on Twitter, pointing out that English is Nigeria’s official language.

Presentational white space

Ms DuVernay became the first black woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of more than $100m in 2016.

Ms Nnaji, who directed and starred in Lionheart, thanked Ms DuVernay for speaking out, saying the film “represents the way we speak as Nigerians”.

She added: “This includes English which acts as a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken in our country.”

In another tweet, she said: “We did not choose who colonized us. As ever, this film and many like it, is proudly Nigerian”.

English is still the official language of Nigeria because of British colonisation, which lasted for nearly a century until independence in 1960.

Lionheart, which is currently streaming on Netflix, is about a Nigerian woman trying to keep her father’s company together in a society dominated by men.

Media captionThe Tanzanian making ‘pure African’ film costumes

The best foreign language film category was changed ahead of the 2020 awards to best international feature film, with the Academy saying that the reference to “foreign” was “outdated within the global filmmaking community”.

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